Leonardo Unveils Upgraded AWHero Rotary Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle



The AWHero RUAS on the deck of the Paolo Thaon di Revel PPA. (Picture: Leonardo)

AWHero, now enhanced for operations within the naval area, is at the moment the one RUAS within the 200 kg class with a army certification.

On Jun. 5, 2023, Leonardo unveiled the improved AWHero Rotary Uncrewed Aerial Car, at Seafuture 2023, in La Spezia, Italy. The enhancements introduced the plane to a brand new configuration based mostly on the Idea of Operations (CONOPS) centered on multi-purpose operations within the naval area.

The 200 kg RUAS, the one one in its class with a army certification, was unveiled during an official ceremony held on board Italian Navy’s Paolo Thaon di Revel PPA (Pattugliatore Polivalente d’Altura – Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Vessel). The ceremony was attended by representatives from business and establishments, together with the Italian Minister of Protection.

“AWHero is a part of a forward-looking roadmap that Leonardo is implementing to keep up its management in vertical flight purposes within the body of present and future technological evolutions, which is able to extensively re-shape this business,” stated Gian Piero Cutillo, MD of Leonardo Helicopters. “Inside this roadmap, uncrewed techniques and related enabling applied sciences (i.e. automation/autonomy, communications, sensors integration and fusion) are key parts during which the corporate has been considerably investing, whereas  leveraging a fruitful collaboration with the Italian Army Authorities.”

The unmanned system builds upon the licensed and confirmed fundamental configuration with which it shares the rotor system, transmissions, a core avionic system, data-link structure, and a management station. Nonetheless, in comparison with the configuration licensed in 2021, a quantity on modifications have been made to higher deal with the maritime operations CONOPS.

The new developments, which leverage on Leonardo’s distinctive in depth capabilities in rotorcraft system improvement, embody particularly:

  • a heavy gasoline powerplant based mostly on a twin-engine resolution, which targets elevated effectivity, security, and Time Between Overhauls;
  • airframe modifications optimized for the brand new powerplant and improved payload bay capability, radar integration, sensor modularity and platform maintainability; reshaped touchdown gear for maximized on-deck stability and sensor area of view;
  • superior sensor modularity with modular multi-payload structure that permits in-the-field exchangeable sensors together with the Leonardo Gabbiano TS Ultralight maritime radar, 8” EO/IR (Electro-optics/Infra-Crimson) and AIS (Automated Identification System);
  • enhanced survivability from cyber threats in degraded and contested army working environments is due to a twin redundant frequency range encrypted data-link, lost-link contingency procedures, anti-jamming GNSS – international navigation satellite tv for pc system – and GNSS-out flight mode.
Infographic about AWHero’s options and the modifications from the unique design. (Picture: Leonardo)

“The system enhancements unveiled at the moment replicate the incremental but agency transfer from fundamental design to CONOPS (Idea of Operations) centered configuration,” stated Cutillo. “That is significantly true for the related naval purposes, which stay a precedence marketplace for these form of techniques, that are capable of meet intelligence and situational consciousness extension capabilities with an optimized use of assets.”

Leonardo says AWHero is optimized to help a spread of belongings concerned in a spread of naval and multi-domain operations similar to ISTAR (Intelligence Surveillance Goal Acquisition and Reconnaissance), ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), Digital Warfare, Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) Communication Relay, Border Safety, Fight help, and Pressure Safety, and may be built-in with the naval fight administration system.

Since 2019, AWHero has been conducting maritime surveillance functionality demonstrations on ships inside the framework of the OCEAN2020 initiative, the European Defence Fund strategic analysis programme for naval surveillance expertise and maritime security. In 2021 it achieved the Army Certification, based mostly on the worldwide endorsed STANAG4702, demonstrates that the system’s design, improvement, manufacturing, and help meet Army Airworthiness Authority necessities.

Though its CONOPS is targeted on maritime operations, AWHero is a flexible dual-use platform that may function day and night time, over land and sea, and carry out a variety of utility roles including disaster relief, environmental monitoring, help to firefighting, pipeline or powerline monitoring. Additionally it is a super resolution for safety missions similar to surveillance, patrol and aerial monitoring of delicate targets.

A sideshot of the AWHero RUAS on the deck of the Paolo Thaon di Revel PPA. (Picture: Leonardo)

To assist with naval operations, AWHero options totally computerized deck takeoff and touchdown, ease of deck dealing with, minimal time from alert to launch, foldable blades to expedite deck operations, minimal footprint within the hangar and maximized compatibility with the ship’s natural belongings. Knowledge-link helps by design a number of antenna with the intention to simply obtain the 360-degrees protection across the ship. Management station design, containerized or totally built-in into the ship’s command system, allows optimization for the combination of the payload information into the Fight Administration System with the intention to present commanders with a complete multi-domain FIND and FIX functionality.

The airframe has two high-capacity and modular payload bays, on the nostril and underbelly, that may carry a number of sensors, together with the Leonardo Gabbiano TS Extremely-Mild Maritime Radar, Electro-Optical /Infrared (EO/IR) sensor, Digital Assist Measures, Sonobuoy Knowledge Relay and Mild Imaging Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence) payload and a hyperspectral digital camera. The 2 bays permit for various combos of multi-sensors suites enhancing the RUAS’ effectiveness within the roles for which it was designed.

The information collected by these sensors is then disseminated within the dwell theatre of operations by a large band data-link able to sharing in actual time and to behave as a communication node for networked naval, land, and air belongings. The system may be simply interfaced with present networks and supply dwell streaming video, radar photographs, identification of objects, ships, autos and folks to distant video terminals.

Final however not least, AWHero may be teamed with manned plane from a everlasting shore base or ahead deployed working base for Crewed-UnCrewed Teaming (CUC-T) operations, a functionality that Leonardo can also be exploring with different platforms. In actual fact, working alongside manned helicopters, the RUAS can considerably improve maritime operational effectiveness and tactical attain throughout land, littoral and blue-water operations.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based mostly in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally finding out to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT strategies utilized to the world of army operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.


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